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Helmer makes a ‘Killing’

Veteran helmer follows 'Anna' with political thriller

Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski broke a 17-year absence from filmmaking in 2008 when he made “Four Nights With Anna,” an intriguing story of a man wrongly accused of rape who breaks into the victim’s house at night to help her with her housework.

Skolimowski says he was surprised by the numerous awards the film won, including a special jury prize in Tokyo.

“It was appreciated, respected. Perhaps a little too respected for my taste. They made me feel like a veteran, and I feel like I just finished film school. I think of cinema in a very open-minded way,” the 62-year-old director said in an interview with Poland’s Gazeta Wyborca.

He is now working on a very different sort film — “Essental Killing,” a political thriller starring Vincent Gallo as an Afghan captured by American forces and taken to Eastern Europe, where he escapes.

The project evolved from a small-scale story into an international co-production with backers including the national film bodies of Poland, Norway, Hungary and Ireland as well as Canal Plus and the EU’s Eurimages.

“I wanted to make a film in the forest around my house in Poland. It was (British producer) Jeremy Thomas who suggested an international cast to me and jokingly said that if I cast Vincent Gallo and Emmanuelle Seigner, it would be a chance to get out of the arthouse ghetto,” Skolimowski says.

Gallo’s character is “someone caught at a wrong place at a wrong time” who must “fight for his life killing others — and of course there is very little chance he can make it,” Skolimowski says. “Since he is outnumbered, we slowly start rooting for him, just like you root for the underdog in sports competitions.”

The film is in post-production and should be ready by the end of June with hopes for a Venice slot.

Asked about his next project, he laughs. “I never think ahead. I’m a one-project man. Especially since each film might be my last.”